The Old Man Invitational

Space and Time
The venue for the Invitational must accommodate digital replicas of bygone homes, the sites of a multi-disciplinary program (see below). The festivities shall last for 120 days.

The simulacra are of homes that stood in the Sewickley area of Pittsburgh PA, once a Gilded Age enclave. The Old Man was there as a nonentity by local standards, a cub reporter for the Sewickley Herald. Our copies shall resurrect the originals in outline using white lights—faint tracery by day, ghostly constellations by night. Although its heyday is over, Sewickley’s social and business courtship rites—debutantes, liveried servants, fox hunts, arranged marriages, gala balls, amateur theatricals, corporate favors, Cuban cigars and other airs—continue, albeit scaled down. Context: Bellamona was leased in summer 1913 to Andrew W. Mellon, whose worth was estimated in 2013 dollars at $63.2 billion. Our gala ball at Fair Acres II (depicted below) does not constitute endorsement of the bad old days.

Fancy dress or formal wear. All are welcome except COVID anti-vaxxers and mask-resisters.

Individuals overheard mouthing off that golf is for old people shall be videotaped showing how they fare after 36 holes on foot carrying clubs. The incriminating evidence shall be posted on social media.

All proceeds from merchandising, broadcasting and gambling (golfers are gamblers) to Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters, Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Western Pennsylvania Conservancy.

Feet, horse, wheelchair. Guests shall be prohibited from tootling around in or on motorized vehicles. Horse-drawn carriages shall be permitted.

Food Court
brötchen, burgers (fake meat), beer (Hefe-Weißbier (Naturtrüb) and India Pale Ale), burritos, cake, chili rellenos, coffee, croissants, custards, danish (organic fruit), eggs (poached on toast), fruit (organic), milk shakes (malted), pizza (no meat), pretzels (soft and Unique brand hard), prosecco, risotto, rösti, salad, spätzle, spring water, sushi, trout.

Alanro Terrace 1

Ardarra/Oak Grove 3

As You Like It 5

Bellamona 7

Broadlawn 9

Casa Leon 10

Cassella 11


Farm Hill 14

Fair Acres I 16

Fair Acres II 18

Franklin Farm 19

Goodwood 21

Highlawn/Skipton 23

Hillside Farm 25

Hohenberg 27

Oak Ledge 28

Poplar Hill 30

Ridgeview Farm 31

Thomas Lee Shields House 33

Upland Farm 35

French House 2

Lecture: Making the Marvelous 4

Theater House 6

World Cup House 8

Light Opera: H.M.S. Pinafore


New Monuments House 12

Television House 13

Art Installation: Channelling Baldessari 15

German House 17

Gala Ball

Lecture: Water Theater/Mountain 20

David Foster Wallace House 22

Reading: Memory of Steel 24

Music: Hitting Irons 26

Light Opera: Die Fledermaus

Union Picnic 29

Open Mic

Pittsburgh House 32

Lecture: My Sewickley (Uncensored) 34

Sade House 36

1 Built 1902, original owner: George E. McCague; architect: Alden and Harlow, style: Colonial Revival; Edgeworth. Alden and Harlow were also responsible for Carnegie libraries, Carnegie Institute’s Bellefield Boiler Plant aka Cloud Factory, Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf and the Regal Shoe Company.

2 Readings from Of Hospitality, 1997 essay by Jacques Derrida, and Locus Solus, 1914 novel by Raymond Roussel.

3 Originally Oak Grove, owner: Frank Biddle Smith; Sewickley. Renamed Ardarra in 1908 by new owner George Evans Tener (1856-1923). Tener was vice president and director of United Verde Extension Mining Co., director of Pittsburgh Trust Co., and member of Allegheny Country, Duquesne and Edgeworth clubs.

4 On depicting Sewickley Heights and Versailles. Co-presenters: Rori Bloom (Making the Marvelous: Marie-Catherine d’Aulnoy, Henriette-Julie de Murat, and the Literary Representation of the Decorative Arts (2022)) and the Old Man. Prof. Bloom writes “d’Aulnoy and Murat use the literary marvelous to paradoxically demystify the beautiful illusions of aristocratic life by calling for a renewed recognition of artisanal acumen” (p. 8), “ascribing architectural marvels not to the magic of fairies but to the work of craftsmen, d’Aulnoy and Murat infirm the myth of Versailles’s creation as a manifestation of the king’s seemingly magical power in order to celebrate instead the creativity of artists” (p. 32) and “narrative paintings in d’Aulnoy do not relate the achievements of the real king of France but the adventures of her fairy-tale heroines in a move away from representations that flatter figures of French authority to self-reflexive images that affirm the power of the fairy tales’ author” (p. 72).

5 Razed 1937, built 1902, original owner: Elizabeth Dohrman Thaw, architect: Georg S. Orth, landscape design: Olmsted Brothers; style: Tudor Revival; Sewickley Heights; no central heating; on the grounds, a lagoon, a pergola “dripping with wisteria,” a vegetable garden, 83 varieties of plants, surrounded by a stone wall more than a mile long. Elizabeth was the widow of William Thaw, Jr. (1853–1892), a son of William, co-owner of the Pennsylvania and Erie Canal and investor in the Pennsylvania Company, a railroad holding company. Orth was also responsible for the Snyder family’s New-York-style brownstone palace in Allegheny City, today’s North Side of Pittsburgh, and Wilpen Hall in Sewickley Heights as well as the School for Blind Children in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh.

6 Videos of works by Bricolage Production Company (Pittsburgh), Jay Scheib (NYC), Sledgehammer Theater (San Diego), Die Volksbühne (Berlin), Gob Squad (British-German collective) and The Wooster Group (NYC).

7 Razed 1959, built 1904, original owner: Sen. Matthew S. Quay, architect: Rutan and Russell, 1914 addition by Brandon Smith, style: Tudor Revival, Sewickley Heights; 40 rooms. The Senator died before Bellamona was finished. His widow and son, Richard Robert Quay, lived here. Richard was a member of Allegheny Country, Duquesne, Edgeworth, Pittsburgh and University clubs. His summer home was Duneside, Southampton, Long Island NY. Bellamona was leased in summer 1913 to Andrew W. Mellon, whose interests included Mellon National Bank, Alcoa, Carborundum Company, Gulf Oil, Koppers, McClintic-Marshall Construction Company, New York Shipbuilding Corporation, Old Overholt (whiskey), Pittsburgh Coal Co. (which employed 300 men to break strikes and bust unions), Standard Steel Car Co., Union Steel Company, Union Trust Co., Westinghouse Electric Corp. The home was purchased in 1915 by Col. J. M. Schoonmaker, president of Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad. Rutan & Russell were also responsible for the Pittsburgh’s Wash House and Public Baths, Department of Water, Memorial Home for Crippled Children and Diamond Market House.

8 The Invitational shall coincide with the soccer tournament.

9 Original owner: G. Earp; Sewickley Heights.

10 827 Bank Street, original owner: Walter Lyon; Sewickley. Lyon was a member of the Allegheny Country, Duquesne, Edgeworth and Union clubs.

11 Razed 1969, built 1863, original owner: George W. Cass; Glen Osborne. Cass was president of Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne and Chicago Railroad. Renamed The Bluff in 1911 by writer Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958), who lived here until 1921. Many of her short stories, novels and plays were adapted for film and television; at the time of her death, her books had sold more than 10 million copies. The phrase “The butler did it” comes from Roberts Rinehart’s novel The Door, in which the butler murders someone, though the book does not contain the exact phrase. In 1947, at her summer home in Bar Harbor ME, her chef of 25 years fired a gun at her and then attempted to slash her with knives until other servants rescued her. The chef committed suicide in his cell the next day.

12 The rooms are filled with screens displaying exclusively.

13 Binge-watching, curated by the Old Man and Golf Widow, of The Black List, Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, Dark, The Eric Andre Show, Homeland, The League of Gentlemen, Mad Men, Portlandia, Six Feet Under, Staged, Toast of London, et al.

14 Razed 1952, built 1896, original owners: Henry Robinson and Edith (née Oliver) Rea, architect: William Ross Proctor, with additions by Hiss and Weekes and MacClure and Spahr, style: Tudor Revival; Sewickley Heights; 250 acres. Nineteen gardeners maintained 40 cultivated acres lauded as one of the outstanding gardens of America in a 1928 issue of Country Life. The grounds included a 60-foot waterfall, a lily pond, a scented garden of heliotrope and lavender, and a dairy barn inspired by Le Petit Trianon at Versailles. Rea was owner of Robinson, Rea & Company, a foundry and machinist business. Edith’s father was Henry W. Oliver, co-founder of iron manufacturer Oliver Brothers and Phillips (incorporated in 1888 as Oliver Iron and Steel Company), whose Sewickley Heights estate was named Hillcrest. After her husband’s death, Mrs. Rea summered at Lagomar in Palm Beach FL. Proctor was also responsible for the Pumping Station on the Allegheny River off Freeport Road. Hiss and Weekes were known for hotels and apartment buildings in Manhattan and summer residences on the “Gold Coast” of Long Island and in Berkshire County, Massachusetts. MacClure and Spahr were responsible for Pittsburgh’s University Club, Grand Opera House, Joseph Horne Company Warehouse, Lower Station of Monongahela Incline and Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. Headquarters (an extension of five stories, planned at the time the structure was erected, was added to its original height of eight stories).

15 Reenactments of John Baldessari’s The Artist Hitting Various Objects with a Golf Club (1972-3).

16 Built 1899, original owners: Benjamin Franklin Jones, Jr. and Sue Duff Dalzell (married 1892), architect: Alden and Harlow, style: Shingle; Sewickley Heights. Jones (1868-1928), graduate of St. Paul’s School and Princeton, was chairman of the board of Jones & Laughlin Steel Co., chairman of the Electoral College of Pennsylvania, trustee of Allegheny General and Mercy hospitals, director of Union Trust Co. of Pittsburgh and National Union Fire Insurance Co. He was a member of the Allegheny Country, Duquesne, Pittsburgh and Union clubs and Pittsburgh Athletic Association; the University, Princeton, Racquet and Tennis clubs (New York); Union Club (Cleveland); Nassau Club (Princeton); and University Club (Chicago).

17 Readings from Wanderungen durch die Mark Brandenburg (Rambles in Brandenburg), 1862–1889 travelogue by Theodor Fontane, and Denkwürdigkeiten eines Nervenkranken (Noteworthy Thoughts of a Nerve Patient), 1903 memoir by Daniel Paul Schreber.

18 Razed 1964, built 1916-17, replaced Fair Acres I, original owner: Benjamin Franklin Jones, Jr., architects: Hiss and Weekes, style: Beaux Arts; Sewickley Heights; 55 rooms.

19 Razed in 1960s, built 1899, Benjamin Franklin Jones, Sr., architect: Rutan and Russell, with a later addition by Hiss and Weekes; Sewickley Heights. Jones, born 1824 in Claysville, SW of Pittsburgh, co-founded Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. (1861-1979), employer in its heyday of approx. 20,000 workers. Jones & Laughlin also owned coal mines. In 1865, Jones introduced the sliding wage scale, tying wages of workers to the market price for iron.

20 Water features at Versailles, presenter: the Golf Widow.

21 Razed 1989, built 1910: original owner: John Frederic Byers, architect: MacClure and Spahr, style: Tudor Revival; Sewickley Heights; sited opposite 2nd hole of Allegheny Country Club, seven chimneys, gardener’s house, gate house. On a plaque in the Augusta National clubhouse in Georgia, among the names of “others especially active during the club’s formative period,” is that of “J. Frederic Byers of Pittsburgh.” Byers (1881-1949), a graduate of St. Paul’s and Yale, was chairman of the board of A. M. Byers Co., manufacturers of wrought iron and pipe; director of Westinghouse Air Brake Co., Union Switch and Signal Co., Western Allegheny Railroad and Mellon National Bank & Trust Co.; and trustee of Carnegie Institute of Technology and the Carnegie Library. Goodwood was later the home of H. J. Heinz of the eponymous food empire.

22 Read and discuss 2004 story Oblivion by David Foster Wallace, which begins in a golf club: “Heavy, torrential rain struck the 19th Hole Room’s large ‘bay window’ and ran down the leaded panes in lustrous sheets which overlapped complexly, and the sound on the glass and canvas awnings was much like a mechanized or ‘automated’ Car wash; and, with all of the fine, imported wood and dim light and scents of beverages and after shave and hair oil and fine, imported tobaccos and men’s damp sports wear, the 19th Hole felt both warm and cozy and ‘snug’ and yet also somewhat over-confined, not unlike the lap of a dominant adult.”

23 Built about 1900, originally named Skipton, original owner: Ralph Holden Binns, architect: Rutan and Russell; Sewickley Heights. Renamed Highlawn in 1919 by new owner Harry Darlington, first president of Allegheny Country Club.

24 Readings from Memory of Steel (2004) by Edward F. Stankowski, Jr. Ed and the Old Man were Sewickley Herald colleagues and injured parties (cf. Reich v. Gateway Press, Inc., 13 F.3d 685 (3d Cir. 1994)).

25 Built 1927-9, original owner: Lewis A. Clark, architect: Ingham and Boyd; Sewickley Heights; 1,100 acres, grass tennis court, pool with Palladian pool house, kennels, stables, 12-car garage, fire truck, golf course, amusement park incl. roller coaster, petting zoo incl. white and black bears.

26 Performances of a commissioned composition from outside the mainstream, e.g. Noise, Ecoacoustics, Electroacoustics, Minimalism, Postminimalism, New Complexity, et al. Sounds between performances courtesy of KCRW (Santa Monica CA) and KSDS Jazz 88.3 (San Diego).

27 Built 1900, original owner: Russell H. Boggs, architect: Alden and Harlow; Sewickley Heights. Boggs co-founded the department store Boggs & Buhl (1869 to 1958) in Allegheny City. He was a member of the Automobile, Duquesne, Edgeworth and Union clubs and Pittsburgh Athletic Association. Cloverton Hills, the home of Henry Buhl, Jr., was on nearby Camp Meeting Road.

28 Original owner: H. L. Mason; Sewickley Heights. Mason was related by marriage to Charles Lockhart, founder of Standard Oil and Lockhart Iron and Steel.

29 Hosted by Greater Pennsylvania Regional Council of Carpenters and United Brotherhood of Carpenters. According to family lore, Valentine Hohman, the Old Man’s paternal grandfather, laid floors in some Sewickley Heights homes.

30 Built 1904, original owner: Mrs. A. M. Byers, architect: Hiss and Weekes; Sewickley Heights. Poplar Hill overlooked Allegheny Country Club golf course.

31 Built by B. F. Jones, Sr. for daughter Elizabeth and her husband Joseph O. Horne; architect: possibly Alden and Harlow; Sewickley Heights. Horne was a son of Joseph Horne, founder of the Pittsburgh department store Horne’s (1849 to 1994).

32 Reading of An American Childhood, 1987 memoir by Annie Dillard, a Pittsburgh native like the Old Man (he mentions the fact when necessary).

33 Razed 2002, built 1854, better known as the Shields Homestead, style: Federal; Edgeworth; brick, five bays, side gables, six acres, 61-foot-long center hall with sinuous staircase and great arch. Also razed: a three-bedroom, board-and-batten gardener’s cottage and a barn.

34 Presenter: L. Michael May, former editor of the Sewickley Herald.

35 Owner: James Stuart Brown, a graduate of Haverford College and member of the Duquesne Club, Pittsburgh Golf Club, Allegheny Country Club, University Club and Philadelphia Club.

36 For guests bored by the Old Man’s cerebral tastes.

The King of Bedlam (1839), Gérard de Nerval
Panama-California Exposition (1915-16 ), San Diego CA
Sewickley Heights and Vicinity map (1937), L. G. Molyneaux
Versailles (October 9, 2008 – April 1, 2009), Jeff Koons
The Way to Present the Gardens of Versailles (1689-1705), Louis XIV
The 120 Days of Sodom (1785), Marquis de Sade

Promenade of Louis XIV in Front of the Northern Parterre (1688), Etienne Allegrain
View of the Bassin d’’Apollon in the gardens of Versailles (1713), Pierre-Denis-Martin

image credits
Fair Acres II, © Indiana Limestone Company. Courtesy, Indiana Geological and Water Survey, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
Ghostly Constellation: Jonathan Derham